News / Economy

EU, China Stumble Toward Solar Trade War

FILE - Employees examine newly-made solar panels before boxing for shipment at a factory of Yingli Solar in Baoding, Hebei province, August 2, 2012.
FILE - Employees examine newly-made solar panels before boxing for shipment at a factory of Yingli Solar in Baoding, Hebei province, August 2, 2012.
Reuters
China's leadership transition is complicating talks to resolve a multi-billion-dollar dispute with the European Union over solar panels, pushing both sides closer to placing punitive tariffs on each others' exports and risking a trade war.

The newly-appointed chief of China's Communist Party Xi Jinping is set to take over the presidency at a national congress in March. But the full line-up of government officials is not yet in place and China's current commerce minister is likely to step down after what some have said was a political snub at the party's congress in November.

EU leaders want to avoid following the United States' decision last year to impose duties on Chinese solar power products, aware that Europe needs China to help it emerge from three years of economic crisis.

But EU officials and diplomats say they have made little progress, accusing the Chinese of "stonewalling," and are unable to get beyond the outgoing commerce minister, Chen Deming. They complain of a limbo in the ministry that will not end until after the March congress.

"There is no clarity on what the new leadership thinks about trade," said a senior EU official involved in talks with China. "They are stonewalling and the window of opportunity for a solution on solar panels is closing."

China's commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang told reporters in Beijing this week that officials are "conducting consultations and relevant response work with the concerned parties," but did not comment on any impact China's leadership transition is having on negotiations.

Germany, the United States and China are the world's biggest solar markets and companies are in a race to win contracts as countries seek to limit pollution and global warming.

In a non-binding vote, EU countries approved on Wednesday a request from industry to register solar panels from China, which would allow for retroactive measures if the European Commission agrees to registration and does impose duties.

But the Commission, the EU executive, denied on Thursday that the decision by member states signalled Brussels was closer to blocking Chinese solar products. "Let's not interpret this as suggesting anything - it is simply administrative procedure," EU trade spokesman John Clancy said in a statement.

Race Against Time

European solar panel manufacturers, led by Germany's Solar World, accuse their Chinese counterparts of receiving state subsidies to flood the EU with panels sold below cost and putting Europeans out of business to corner the market.

The Commission launched an investigation last September into Chinese solar panels, the biggest import sector it has ever targeted. China exported more than $25 billion worth of panels to the European Union in 2011.

Highlighting the risk of a trade war, Chinese solar companies also accuse the European Union of wrongdoing.

China says Europe illegally favors it domestic solar panel producers and Beijing is considering its own duties on EU exports of polysilicon, which is used to make solar panels.

FILE - Employees carry solar panels at a solar power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, May 18, 2012.FILE - Employees carry solar panels at a solar power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, May 18, 2012.
x
FILE - Employees carry solar panels at a solar power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, May 18, 2012.
FILE - Employees carry solar panels at a solar power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, May 18, 2012.
Complicating things further, some European distributors and installers of Chinese panels say EU tariffs on China would be damaging for Europe's efforts to develop clean energy. They say solar energy is only efficient using Chinese products that are up to 45 percent cheaper than those made in Europe.

"Even without the [leadership] transition, this is a very difficult issue,'' said Scott Kennedy, director of the Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business at Indiana University. "I really don't see a negotiated outcome."

Time is of the essence because many expect Beijing to make a decision on polysilicon duties as soon as the end of February.

The EU's investigation must culminate in a decision by June.

In reality, that is likely to come by mid-April, when diplomats from the EU's 27 countries make their recommendation to the European Commission, which is handling the case.

Such a timeframe does not give a new trade minister in Beijing much time to get acquainted with the issues and reach a settlement. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said there is no chance of tweaking the investigation's deadline.

"They know exactly what it is about, the solar panel case. We are consulting them, it is up to them," De Gucht told Reuters. "You cannot have something like a prolongation of that period because there is a transition in China."

In the past four years, the Commission has only chosen to end one trade defense case in China without imposing duties.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ian from: USA
February 22, 2013 5:48 PM
"Complicating things further, some European distributors and installers of Chinese panels say EU tariffs on China would be damaging for Europe's efforts to develop clean energy. They say solar energy is only efficient using Chinese products that are up to 45 percent cheaper than those made in Europe."
it is the same excuse Walmart used . You save 45% but the hidden cost of european workers losing jobs may be higher than 45% !


by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
February 21, 2013 11:20 PM
Tarrifs/duties are the only way to deal with producers, that do not work from a level playing field; and more importantly to protect home producers from an unfair business practice(s). But the money collected must go to the producers, as compensation...will it?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7768
JPY
USD
108.84
GBP
USD
0.6124
CAD
USD
1.0999
INR
USD
61.042

Rates may not be current.